Formulative days, Budapest, 1969

I’m in trouble. I can’t remember why, but I remember tears, and the looks of disappointment. I should have known better. My moment is lit by a dull light, a single globe. Its the place I go when I need time away. I’m not hiding – they know where I am – I’m here by choice.

Faces gradually form in the patterns in the lino flooring. A man with big eyebrows. A witch. A rabbit with a cigarette. Not frightening. Different every time. They too know I’m not bad, but that I must spend some time here. Hopefully no-one else needs to come in here while I’m here. The dark hallway is long, I’m sure if I hear steps I will have time to run to my room. I’m really fast.

The day started much happier and brighter than this. Sun was streaming through the kitchen window as the three of us washed the dishes after breakfast. Its cold outside and I look down between orange curtains at the snow on the rooftops and streets below. It must have fallen overnight, so we’ll have to find our car. We take a spade when its time to leave. We parked about here I think. Nothing but big white mounds. Blue car – not ours. Green car, we must be close.

I went to kindergarten today. We call it school because I’m not little anymore. The adults like to hear me talk, and watch me tie my shoes. “Ooh”, “aaah”, but its easy I say, look, I’ll show you!

The kids are all meant to speak English at school, but some don’t. One boy is angry. I don’t know what he is saying to me, so he bites me. It hurts. I have Hungarian boy teeth marks now. I cry. I want to go home.

Our car is stopped at a big gate by men with guns. I have a plastic ray gun. When can I have a real gun? “Nyugi, Nyugi” comes the reply – patience little one. We’re waiting for what seems like a whole day when that song comes on the radio. “Oooblah Dee, Oooblah Dah!”. I hate that song. Its nonsense. I don’t know what they’re saying. Why can’t they speak beautifully and clearly like me? I shoot the radio with my laser gun.

All of a sudden the men with guns come over. They demand to see my gun. I don’t want to give it, but I have to. They turn it over in their hands and even I can understand the tension. They pull the trigger and the laser fires with a rattle. They laugh, and my gun is returned. We can go home now.

But now here I am in trouble. Was it the gun? Fighting at school? I’m not sure, but here I must wait, with the dog I found on the floor and the old lady in a furry coat, just a little while longer.

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